Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas but when it comes to paintball (except for getting new gear) it is pretty depressing from a scenario-event standpoint. In most places, after about the middle of November the weather is too cold, too snowy, or too wet for scenario play. For me, the action will begin again in late February with Blackhawk Down VII at Sniperz Den in Oregon. This blog article will be a smattering on things that have been on my mind.
GREAT NEW PIECE OF GEAR
I decided that I would find something to replace the cuff before the start of my next series of events. There is no shortage of these kinds of tactical armboards for sale. I, however, was pretty particular about what I wanted. First of all, I wanted something small. Lots of these boards are huge. They fold out into three or even more plastic windows. I don't need that much information on my forearm. One fold-out window with a place to hold a folded up map of the field was all I required.
Second, it had to have a place to put the marker. No more sticking it in one of my BDU chest pockets or leaving it on a stump thinking I would have the time later to tuck it away and then leaving it there when I had to bug-out quickly and unexpectedly.
Third, I didn't want any velcro on the window opening portion of the board. I mainly use the board when I am in a hide. Velcro is loud. I was looking for something that would secure with a single, small, relatively quiet snap.
After a bit of looking, I found this from Condition One Tactical:
It is small, at only 6 1/2" wide and 4" tall. A single snap secures the two sides together. One side has a clear plastic window suitable for a 3x5 index card. The other side has a slit which forms a small, enclosed pocket that is about the same size. I can place an index card with coordinates, map, or other information that I want to remember in the enclosed pocket. In the pocket with the plastic sleeve, I place a white index card so that the range numbers I write will stand out when I am in a hurry. No more searching for my pen. It slides right into the cuff. Just one more thing that makes things easier and less complicated. The cover is Multicam, and the straps that secure it to my arm are olive green. The stitching is heavy duty and, with luck, this will be the last tactical armboard I ever have to buy.
I know that there are a lot of new first-strike rifles out there and players are anxious to know what feedback has come in since their introduction, but before we get into the rifle discussion, I want to share some good news on another topic. The guys at Magfed Paintball Com have kindly asked me to be a contributing writer. I, of course, jumped at the chance. They have asked for permission to publish certain parts of this Blog on their site and have invited me to submit articles along the line of what you see here for publication on the magfedpaintball.com site. Thanks to Evan and George over at Magfed for their kind words and I look forward to working with them in the future.
FIRST-STRIKE RIFLE UPDATE
During the Holidays I have been watching and reading the reviews on the new, first-strike rifles. I think there are some developments that merit a bit of discussion
My friends at Magfed Paintball broke the news first. The SAR12 has been quietly introduced and is now available in three different configurations. Carmatechs’s new site for ordering the SAR12 is www.carmatech.net. It’s a nice clean site and don’t miss the blog that goes along with it. It will be interesting to see the reviews as they come in. I was particular happy to see that Carmatech seems to keeping it real in their attempts to market the rifle. Its Forum opens with a statement about how it can change the game when you have the ability to shoot a player from 75 yards away. That's a good honest appraisal of what this rifle should be able to do using first strike rounds.
One gripe that has surfaced early on is Carmatech’s decision to offer the gun with in a bolt action configuration while offering the semi-automatic conversion as an additional-cost option. Some players were under the impression that the gun would come stock with both pieces. As it stands now, the gun, in its sniper version costs $999.00. For that amount you get the rifle with a 20” Hammerhead barrel, in-stock air, in a bolt-action configuration. Scope and bipod are extra.
I got an email from Mark Fanslau, one of the Carmatech beta testers, recently and he shared some of his thoughts about the beta version of the gun. I have Mark’s permission to summarize his conclusions and I thought that what he has to say would be of interest to those of you thinking about purchasing the Carmatech. To give you some background, Mark has played for over 20 years. He started out as a speedball player who has transitioned to a limited paint/magazine style of play. He has owned a Tiberius T9, T8, T9.1, T4, and Milsig Paradigm Pro. He is also the player pulling the trigger on the rather famous 125-yard shot that was shown in the recent, very popular SAR12 video. I provide all this background about Mark because I believe it is important to know the depth of experience that a reviewer when you are trying to evaluate the strength of his review.
Beta testing is supposed to reveal issues with a product that need to be fixed prior to its introduction. Mark told me that the SAR12 has been no exception. There have been issues, but only small ones and that the issues are being dealt with in a quick and professional manner.
Mark describes the gun as extremely consistent and comfortable to shoot. He says that the stock makes the gun easy to use without having to resort to a riser. The gun has a good, crisp sliding trigger and good balance. He reports that it feels better balanced that the T4 which he describes as a “front heavy design.”
Mark says the gun shoots reliably at 50-70 yards and is more consistent over the chrono than the Tiberius T9.1. He likes the fact that the gun is easy to disassemble, that it can be breach loaded, and that it is quiet. He also says that the constant-force springs in the magazines prevent paint from dimpling while sitting for long periods of time while sitting in the magazine.
In conclusion, Mark says that he has either owned or used virtually everything that shoots first strikes and the SAR12 would be his gun of choice.
I want to thank Mark for his review and his comments. This is the kind of real-world stuff that helps people make up their minds when they are trying to decide what platform to purchase.
THE DYE DAM AND THE SCARAB ARMS TGR2
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I am dragging out my pre-order soapbox one last time. In this instance, I am doing it to illustrate a point to those who may have read my warnings and wondered why I made such a fuss about this topic. In this case I am going to use the Dye Dam and the Scarab Arms TGR2 rifles as my cases in point.
When I initially warned players against pre-orders, several readers (mostly beta-testers) got upset because what they thought I was saying is that pre-orders are a bad idea because a gun might not ever be produced, or, if produced, might be junk. There were partially right in their belief. Those are indeed some of the risks entailed in pre-ordering, but that was not my chief concern. Much, much more likely is the situation where a pre-ordered gun is actually produced but when you see it in its final form it is not what you thought it would be and doesn't fit your style of play.
The Dye Dam makes my point perfectly. Those who pre-ordered it got a great gun if it fits their particular style of play. If, for example, you are a magfed-only player then you’re good. If you’re a CQB kind of guy who wants to run a hopper with red dot sight and put a few first strikes into the mags for those times when you need a little more accuracy, then you too are a happy camper.
On the other hand, if you were hoping that you could mount a scope with a small, mini red dot on top of the scope, shoot with the hopper for CQB using the red-dot sight, and with first strikes in the mags for accurate long-distance work, then you are not going to be very happy. When I first looked at this gun I saw it as a way to have some of the self-defense potential of a heavily armed spotter with me while still carrying a sniper rifle. I am not a hopper fan but I would have accepted the trade-offs in having one if I could have had the tactical advantages that would have gone along with it.
While the accuracy numbers for sniper work using the Dye Dam are still not clear to me, the one thing that the reviews do reflect is that the gun’s feedneck makes it really hard to simultaneously mount a scope, adjustable picatinny rail, and hopper. Lots of players are trying to figure out different ways (different hoppers, etc.) to make mounting a scope and hopper work. So far, I haven’t seen a configuration that really works well other than a suggestion that a canted mount might work. I don’t favor that approach because of accuracy concerns. They put anti-cant devices on sniper rifles for a reason.
SCARAB ARMS TGR2
The Scarab Arms TGR2 is perhaps the classic case of why players should avoid pre-ordering expensive, new paintball products. The biggest knock on Scarab Arms TGR2 has been that it lacked an on-the-fly velocity adjuster. One of the early testers of the TGR2 shared with me his unhappiness at not having the ability to adjust his gun at the field. He said that until it had that feature it would be a “wall-hanger.”
Early on, Scarab Arms talked about making some modifications to the TGR2 to fix this problem. Then, on January 14 of this year, Scarab Arms posted this bit of information on the Magfed.Com paintball site:
Just to follow up on the article from MFPB. After doing testing with the FPS block and the spring block we have found that the fluctuation with the spring block is considerably less then with the FPS adjustable block. Also the upsides to not having an adjustable FPS block are easily explained. Less moving parts. Less seals. And with the replacement of spring taking less then 5 min (when we have all stayed in front of a chrono for more time then that turning a 3mm Allen key) we did not find a downside to a none adjustable block. We will offer replacement spring for people that would like to change there FPS in the next month or 2. As well we will offer at no cost the spring kit to the customers that already have our markers. There will be videos posted in the next week or so showing the FPS fluctuation on HPA.
Ouch! Adjustable velocity mechanisms in a paintball gun have been a given for a very, very long time. There is a reason for that in my opinion, but since I am not the guy to whom you should ever pose tech questions, I reached out to a few tech people in the industry I trust. It was pointed out to me that adjusting velocity with springs is going to be a tricky business and that players are probably going to end up shooting with velocities far too low just because they can’t, with precision, get the gun adjusted to stay under the field limit. Remember, in the videos that have been produced so far, the TGR2 has not been a model of consistency when it comes to velocity.
To make matters worse, Scarab Arms appears to have reduced the regular production price of the TGR2 down to what was the original pre-order price. In other words, pre-ordering was supposed to save you a hundred dollars. Now anyone can get the gun for that price. Two ouches!!
In February, Scarab Arms has said that is plans to introduce a spring kit which, when used in the gun, is supposed to produce a range of different velocities. As this gun stands, from a technological viewpoint, I would suggest you take a wait-and-see approach before you invest in it.
Here is Scarab Arms's video explaining the spring kits:
Now that you have watched that video I want you to think about doing all that every time you step up to the chronograph at a scenario event. Do you really want to essentially take your gun apart to get your velocity below the field limit? How about being tapped on the shoulder by a ref and finding out your gun is shooting hot on the field. I have seen players make that kind of adjustment right in front of the ref with a turn or two on the reg. You're not going to do that with this rifle. This fix may make it easier for Scarab Arms to manufacturer the TGR2 (redesigns are expensive), but it is definitely not player friendly.
Initially, I was very hopeful about the TGR2, but even more so about its announcement that it would bring a new type of first strike round to market. After having watched Scarab Arms’s missteps with its new rifle, I am no longer quite so optimistic about getting a quality replacement round at a better price.
If you are in the market for a first-strike sniper rifle and want it now, then I would suggest not purchasing the TGR2. At the very least, wait until the spring kit is introduced and see what players are saying about it. What should you buy if you really need something immediately? In roughly the same price range you can get a used Tiberius T9.1. My advice is to stay completely away from nearly all the Tiberius accessories with the possible exceptions of in-stock air (if you really like that option) and the Tiberius/Lapco .683 rifled barrel if you intend to use HPA. Buy a used gun from somewhere like Ebay. If you are, like me, not all that technically inclined or interested, send it in to Tiberius and for $20, plus shipping, they will give it a maintenance tune-up. Add your own sight or scope, a Hammerhead Barrel, Flasc suppressor, adjustable picatinny rail, and stock and you will have a very accurate weapon. It isn't a gun completely free of technical issues but it is relatively sound and it is tried and true.
If an accurate marksmen rifle is more your interest then I would suggest purchasing the Milsig Paradigm Pro. Before I get the inevitable questions asking me why I think the Tiberius is a better sniper rifle than the Milsig, let me assure everyone that I don’t think that at all. The accuracy differences between these two rifles hasn’t been (at least for me) tested in a way that would permit me to even venture an opinion as to their respective accuracy. My suggestion is based on nothing more than practicality. A new Paradigm Pro certainly costs more money out of the chute but the rifle build is so good that all you will have to do is mount a good red dot sight on it and you will have a top-shelf marksmen rifle.
To build a quality sniper rifle, you will need those extra pieces of equipment I mentioned above. That’s why I suggest starting with a stripped (cheaper) T9.1 and spending the extra money on quality shooting-accuracy extras. The Tiberius accessories can be made to work but, as your skills improve, you will end up frustrated at their lack of quality and want something better.
A CCM SR1 WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS
If you're the kind of person who likes his hamburger with everything on it, then you're going to like what Chicago, from the Snipers Talk Forum, has done with his SR1. Take a look at the photos:
There is a ton of gear on the top rail of that gun. Crossbow scope, laser range designator, and on-board air with a custom HPA tank attached with macro line to the reg, to name just a few. Take a look at that snakeskin film he has applied to the Flasc suppressor. If you have questions, I would suggest contacting Chicago at the Snipers Talk Forum and PM him directly about this beauty. He has spent a great deal of time putting it together and there is a lot of talk about it over there.
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